A little bit of history repeating
When I wrote the headline for the article I published on Sunday – What should we do with the sulking failure? – my first thought was naturally, ‘Oh Alex, what a witty fellow you are.’ Then I thought, ‘Hang on, I’m sure I’ve seen that somewhere before.’ But a quick Google didn’t answer my vague sense of déjà vu and with rumours already circulating about King Billy’s impending dethroning, I decided to risk accusations of plagiarism and published the piece post-haste.
Turns out I was plagiarising someone – myself. Nearly 10 years ago I wrote another article with almost the exact same headline – What shall we do with the sulking failure? (note the ‘shall’, clearly 10 years ago I was more concerned with accurate sea shanty pastiches) – only this particular opus was not about Billy Davies but another abrasive character about to be dismissed as Forest manager, Joe Kinnear.
If Billy’s fate wasn’t already decided by Fawaz, my article should have had him worried. Little over two weeks after my tirade against our ‘adipose gaffer’ (I had to look it up as well) in November 2004, Kinnear was relieved of his duties and left free to make the lives of Newcastle fans that little bit worse… twice.
Kinnear also lost his job after a heavy defeat away at Derby, but tellingly it was, like Davies, off-pitch shenanigans that cased me to lose patience with him. I remember taking umbrage at him calling some fans ‘morons’ and the doubtful truths of his media comments, much like those during his most recent employment, were so notorious LTLF had a feature called ‘Joe’s Nose’, a Pinocchio-style caricature, the proboscis of which grow with each falsehood he spoke, eventually spilling off the side of the page.
While Kinnear couldn’t keep his gob shut, Davies’ problem was arguably the opposite, that he was too demure (at least he was where Natalie Jackson wasn’t concerned). His refusal to meet the press, particularly declining to offer any comment on our humiliation at the iPro Stadium on Saturday, was arguably the deciding factor in him losing support of the majority of fans. When I wrote my article back in November 2004, Kinnear too had been skipping press conferences when it suited him.
The lesson is clear for whoever the next Forest manager might be – communication with the supporters, via the proxy of the media, is of vital importance. Perhaps not as important as results, but bad or hostile communication seems a quick way to ensure that fan site commentators, if not fans in general, grow tired of trying to defend or excuse poor performances.
Check out these sentences in the concluding paragraphs of the two articles linked above:
November 2004: ‘By telling the fans he is “not bothered” about what people think, he [Joe Kinnear] might just find that we aren’t particularly bothered if he goes.’
March 2014: ‘If Billy doesn’t care about this [neglecting the fans], then neither should we care about him getting the sack.’
This tells us two things: a) that my writing style hasn’t changed much over the last decade, and b) that managers who don’t care what the fans think of them generally end up not caring on their own time.
Of all the names in the hat for the Forest manager’s job, there is one man who springs to mind as never having any problems connecting with Forest supporters. I’m not saying Stuart Pearce should be given the job on this basis alone, but clearly it would take a huge change in character for me to be writing on these pages about how he doesn’t care what we think. Perhaps it’s a history lesson Fawaz ought to pay attention to as he weights up his options in th e coming days…